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Michael’s face was red. “OK, then, gun to your head,” he demanded, “what’s the best Christmas movie?” Though his tone suggested he might actually have put something to my head, he hadn’t. Well, first, I told him, with a gun to my head I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on movies; second, the category’s too broad: Christmas comedy? Christmas love story? Is Die Hard a Christmas movie for taking place on Christmas? “Completely irrelevant,” he said. “Best is best. But anyway, it’s a trick question. They all suck because they all lie.” I knew better than to take the bait but I told him anyway that all movies lie. “Well, I know actors wear makeup and play make-believe,” he told me, “but they do that to tell a truth; Christmas movies lie to lie.” He put his mug down hard as if he wanted to tenderize the coaster. Glasses clinked down the bar. He’d been pounding me the same way since we sat down, which was common, but his red face was not. He cared about this. I watched his eyes and waited. A string of lights twinkled behind his head. “You think Santa Claus is universal,” he told me,“and that finding out he’s your parents is a primal disillusionment. That’s Hollywood bullshit. Kids have dads who bring out guns on Christmas Eve and put them to their children’s heads one by one,” he said. That can’t be right, I told him. “One by one and pulled the trigger,” he told me, “year in and year out, and made them wonder if one year there’d be bullets. Why have I never seen that in a movie?” I waited until he was finished. Why are you telling me this, Michael? I asked him. What the hell are you telling me?
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He’s not always easy to see. I can be talking to him in my room on a rainy afternoon with the radio playing and sharing a blueberry pie, and my dad will open the bedroom door and Deuce’ll be gone and it looks like I’m eating a pie by myself and talking to the radio. Read the rest of this entry »
Dad has gone and left me with this box of I don’t know what. It has stood like a book on the cookbook shelf with undiscarded yellow pages and other worthless paper, Read the rest of this entry »
You are not an accident, little one. You were in my care even before you were born. You have a place inside me still and always will. I have big plans for you, little one, plans as grand as galaxies and as unfathomable, but they mean nothing. Read the rest of this entry »
Halfway down the block from where we had just seen Uncle Mickey, Dad stopped the car and sat with his foot on the brake. He’d been crying, I think, Read the rest of this entry »
Where we live, the troopers are always on call, even if their kids are in the patrol car with them on their way to the shoe store. I’m twenty minutes out, is all Mom said to the dispatcher, but I could tell from the road we took she wouldn’t be dropping me off. Read the rest of this entry »
We sit at a table in The Glade—a room named for the sappy paintings of pastoral scenes on its walls. Their grasses and trees are carefully balanced and in them nothing lurks or lives. Read the rest of this entry »
—Nevertheless you did kill him?
—I was present at his death.
—Present with a knife.
—Mine was not the only hand on that knife.
Read the rest of this entry »
I had no magic as a child. I would have used it if I had, to stop the Boots from kicking me where I hid. Flat against the bedroom floor with the floor of the sky just inches above my nose, I knew no safer, more anonymous place to be, Read the rest of this entry »
In photos of my daughter’s wedding, I look thinner than I was and not at all as if I wanted to strangle the groom. There stands Sheila, radiant as always against a bank of pallbearer suits. Read the rest of this entry »